…few performers on American Bandstand as “friends”. This wasn’t due to aloofness or by design but as he describes in his memoir “Rock, Roll and Remember” just how it was since most performers would arrive at the studio usually just moments before their performance and were staged in a holding room away from the kids.
Further, after performing they would usually exchange a few comments with Clark and then proceed directly to the autograph table and that was that. But he did have a few very close performing friends and these were Frankie Avalon and Fabian – both local Philadelphia kids. Francis Thomas Avallone and Fabiano Anthony Forte attended the same Philadelphia high school along with Ernest Evans (Chubby Checker). They were readily available to appear on the show especially when a performer was quickly needed since they lived so close by. Same held true for Chubby Checker and Bobby Rydell.
Clark’s two closest musician friends were Bobby Darin (Walden Robert Cassotto) and Connie Francis (Concetta Rosa Maria Franconero). They were not locals – Darin from New York and Francis from New Jersey. The two were an item for a time and both would become very close friends with Dick Clark and would help him get through some of the tougher times in his life (payola scandal, divorce and the like).
Clark tells of getting to know other performers later on when he began his “Caravan of Stars” tours. On these he was thrown in with the performers for night after night – sharing a bus, motels and at first the indignities of performing in the South with mixed race musicians.
Speaking of a “Chubby Checker”
Dick Clark’s version of the naming of Ernest Evans was that Clark and his wife Barbara watched Evans perform which afterwards Barbara observed something along the lines of ‘He’s adorable – Just like a little Fats Domino – a Chubby Checker”.